Over the years I have noticed how teachers use less and less musical activities during a school day. Music in school (particularly Primary school) is often covered by a song surrounding a particular (usually historical) topic.
However, music – or better put – musical learning is extremely important because of the massive benefits it gives to children.
You maybe afraid of teaching music because:
- You cannot sing
- You aren’t musical
- You don’t have the knowledge or experience
- You haven’t time to fit music in the school day
- You haven’t had any (or very little) music training to help you
- You don’t have space to do musical activities
- You have no space or budget for any more resources
Whatever the reason, I truly believe everyone is musical and can sing. It maybe a little harder for some than others, depending on how much music has been a part of your life.
What I love about singing is that it is actually very flexible and very accessible
Learning music does not have to mean expensive instruments or having a special music session planned. It is actually very easy to implement very basic but effective music learning into any setting by using our voices. Our voices are free, we all have one and we can all use them.
By using our voices and our bodies for movement we can teach children musical concepts very easily and at any time.
School or pre-school days are busy. There are pressures of children meeting academic standards. It is well known that music can help children excel in areas of mathematics and literacy so why isn’t music used more?
If you are afraid of singing don’t be. Children love singing. From birth babies engage more with the singing voice than with the speaking voice and no matter how bad you think you are you are probably not as bad as you think!
Here are a few ways you could introduce music into your day.
Using only two notes (listen to sound clip) sing each child’s name in turn and ask them to sing back whether its “I’m here” or “Hello (and your name)”. This may take a little time initially but I can guarantee you will get the children to engage faster as soon as you start singing.
This is a fantastic way to build listening skills in particular pitch matching which means they are singing the same as you and not higher or lower. Guaranteed there will be quite a few that cannot do it. This is a particular important musical skill for developing inner hearing (hearing the tune in your head before singing it) and it helps forward thinking.
I’m thinking of a particular maths test here where you have to read ahead whilst answering the previous question.
Singing two notes is also easy and will build your confidence in singing!
Singing whilst moving from place to place
Is it difficult to get the children to line up quickly and quietly for assembly or when going out to play?
Why not try a simple song?
I have often changed words of songs and if we use a simple song with a few notes that are next to each other. Children will pick these songs up so quickly. I have changed Let’s take a walk to Line up at the door (its time to go to assembly), Let’s go wash our hands (to make them nice and clean).
This is a very simple song that you can fit into your day making boring tasks much more fun and most probably save you time!
Songs which encourage co-operation / turn taking
There are so many songs that have musical games to encourage musical development. However musical games also provide a rich source of development for children in other areas like sharing; building confidence and self-esteem; co-operating and playing by rules.
A great song which I feel covers all these elements, is Copy Cat. As the leader you can start the game by thinking of an action such as clapping your hands. As you sing the song clap your hands in time with the pulse.
Then ask the children if they have any action ideas instead of clapping. You can either do this in turn or ask for volunteers. Asking the children to perform their action (and then everyone copies) builds confidence, creativity and also respect for others’ ideas.
If you are lacking space you can take this song outside into the playground!
Songs which calm
Believe it or not singing instructions actually works better than speaking. Children listen. Sleep Baby Sleep is a great song to calm children down and followed by Bye Baby Bunting really makes the children listen.
When I use this song in a class there are often gasps from practitioners wondering how on earth I can get children to lay on the floor really still. Try it!
After singing Sleep Baby Sleep (in a quiet singing voice) – sing “sit up quietly” and sing Bye Baby Bunting. Ask the children to pretend to rock their favourite doll or soft toy. If you have a few soft toys or dolls share them out and look for the child who rocks their toy beautifully!
These are just a few ways to integrate music into the school day where children are actually learning musical concepts (pitch, pulse, dynamics, rhythm etc) and not just singing a song about a historical topic.
Music is engaging and singing is accessible to everyone. Everyone is musical it is inbuilt we just need to keep singing!
If you need further ideas, advice and practical ideas of how to get more music into your school day, find out more about the Early Years training through Think Cre8tive Group. We offer regional and national training in creative subjects.
Get in touch!